I’ve got a secret. OK, I have a lot of secrets…we all do. The things we never want anyone to know, the things we can barely admit to ourselves. Secrets are not just the things we’re ashamed of, but the things that thrill us too, we can even be proud of them. Secrets are funny things. Sometimes we hold them inside to protect someone we love, thinking that the information could hurt them or be misinterpreted. Most times we keep secrets because we don’t want to be judged. Judged on our actions, our REactions, our thoughts.
Secret fantasies. Secret lovers. Secret pasts. Framed in those ways, the things we keep from sharing get a bad rap. They are charged with a forbidden energy. I try to disempower that perceived negative vibe by being honest with myself first, and if I feel I am able, being honest with whomever the secret might involve. But secret crushes and secret admirers can be innocent. Secret hopes and dreams are what keep us motivated to continue pushing forward. I love secrets. They heighten situations, giving them an urgency, a hidden value. They give me hope for my future.
In looking up the definition of the word secret, I came across a meaning that I hadn’t really thought of. “Not acknowledged.” Sure, it is essentially the same as all the other meanings; “kept from view, marked by the habit of discretion, uncovered, unavowed, closemouthed, hidden” but ‘not acknowledged’ really struck something within me. We all want to be acknowledged, chosen, loved. And not just in an egoic way, we were put on the earth to love and be loved, to serve, and to be seen. When something is secret, it is just truth sitting in the dark. (That’s my own personal definition.)
What’s your darkest secret? Maybe you’re thinking of the ashamed one. Be gentle with yourself, forgive yourself, ask for a blessing and move on if you can. I want to shine some light on the thrilling secret. Is there something you can do or say to illuminate that truth, honor that hidden gem inside? Maybe you have a secret power that no one knows about, a skill that gives you pride. Try sharing it, you never know whom you might inspire. Is there a secret wish you have that you don’t give a lot of energy to for fear of being laughed at or failing? Is there something you can do or say to bring that into the light a bit, to elevate it within yourself? Let it come up for air and breathe itself into the world. You are worth being acknowledged.
I started this blog by telling you that I’ve got a secret. This is one I really want to acknowledge and shine a lot of light on. And because this is a food blog, it’s a culinary secret! It’s olive oil. Not just any olive oil. It is the finest stream of green I’ve ever seen. The purest tasting, peppery, flowery, and smooth olive oil I’ve ever cooked with or eaten.
My friend Amalia is from Greece. Earlier this year, she mentioned on Facebook that she was bringing back bottles of her family’s olive oil from Greece. She asked who wanted some. Me me me!!!! I practically shouted at her in the comments. I told her I wanted to taste it, cook with it, and then surely write about it. It took many months for us to get our schedules together to meet, so I missed that particular pressing. Months later, when we finally got together, Amalia gave me a stunning bottle of green golden oil to sample. She was actually going back home again to work on the family farm and bring back more oil.
Here is a bit of history of their farm (and a little lesson in olive oil) from Amalia. “Our land is on the Western Peloponnese of Greece. This land is well known for its nutrient rich soil and is considered an agricultural mecca. The farm has been in our family for at least 300 years and we (my family and ancestors) have been farmers as far back as I can see. The oldest tree on the property has been dated to 900 years old, while the youngest was planted about 10 months ago, with the birth of my niece Danae. Traditionally, every child will be allotted a piece of farm land and olive trees will be planted for the life of the child. Olive oil is used for food, medicine, candle light, soap etc. It was and still is, unthinkable to live without it.
The type of olive pressed in our bottles is known as the Koroneiki variety. This is a rather small, green olive that is native to Greece and has been grown to produce oil for the last 3,000 years. The Koroneiki olive is super charged, with extremely high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants, the healing compounds courtesy of nature’s pharmacy. Polyphenols are the chemical substance found in different plants which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancers. These polyphenols are naturally occurring in olive oil, but their bioavailability is another matter altogether. In conventional processing, they are usually destroyed, as they are sensitive to light and heat. This is why good quality olive oils are ‘cold pressed’, the polyphenols are kept intact. To my surprise, anything under 100 degrees F is considered ‘cold’. My brother actually went to our community press and lowered the temperature!!! Granted it takes more time to press the olives at a colder temperature, but it is totally worth it!”
My friends, this oil is totally worth it. Once I tried it I couldn't wait to claim my bottle upon Amalia’s return to the states. I have dilly dallied sharing this secret, waiting for the perfect time, the perfect recipe. I came across another secret, (also a culinary secret) and I felt the universe was insisting I write a tell-all blog sharing my secrets. My friend Peter, owner of the sweet shop Sugarcube in Long Island City, whom I’ve written about in All Good Things -also of Greek origin- makes a gelato that is my new favorite flavor of frozen treats (or flavor of anything perhaps.) Mascarpone and Olive Oil. There were actually frozen little ribbons of olive oil strewn through the creamy cool whiteness. (Imagine eating Baskin Robbins chocolate peanut butter ice cream when you were a kid and coming across those solid swirls of peanut butter in the fudgy chocolate. Pure gold!) Peter graciously gave me his recipe (that I adapted a bit from his commercially sold version) at the beginning of the summer, and I am finally, in this last week before Labor Day, sharing it. So don’t put your ice cream makers and popsicle molds away just yet.
In sharing about Amalia’s family oil, I want all of you to buy some. I want everyone to experience it. I asked her what her availability is. She said, "I am almost sold out right now, but the next press is November. I return at the beginning of December with the fresh press which has that awesome fluorescent color and super peppery flavor. People on this side of the world never experience that since the oil is usually shipped by boat and during the month or so it takes to get here, the fresh color and flavour are gone. Here are the prices: $20 1/2 liter , $30 750 ml and $40 for the liter..I will be doing a three liter special for $100. During Christmas I sell beautiful gift bottles.”
Let me know in the comments if you’d like to be in touch with Amalia to get on the list for November or get some of this last press. I’ll remind you again near the holidays as I’ve got some other fantastic recipes to share using her oil. You better believe it’ll be on the All Good gifts holiday gift list.
And don’t forget to shine some light on your secrets this week, acknowledge those sweet little unknowns and help them blossom into reality. Or maybe even share a secret recipe!
Mascarpone and Olive Oil Gelato
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup mascarpone
- 1/4 cup dry milk powder
- 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Whisk all ingredients except the olive oil together until the sugar and milk powder dissolve.
- Pour into a container and let the mixture chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
- Pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Before turning off the ice cream machine, in the last few seconds, swirl in the olive oil. Let it turn just a few times to marble in the oil, but not completely incorporate it.
- After the ice cream is made, transfer to an airtight container. Cover tightly and freeze until ready to serve. Drizzle with a little more olive oil.